Todd Mckenney first saw Peter Allen perform when he was fifteen. Until then McKenney had never heard of him. After that concert, however, he bought every record Allen had made and was completely enthralled. Years later, after Allen’s death, McKenney had a chance encounter with Peter Allen’s sister and eventually formed a strong friendship with her and Allen’s whole family.
When the opportunity came up to audition in London for the lead role of The Boy From Oz, McKenney was not only warmly encouraged by Allen’s family, but Allen’s mother actually gave McKenney three of her son’s sequinned shirts to wear.
“That’s where it all began… so I’ve always been endorsed by the family and I’ve always taken it quite seriously,” says McKenney.
Of course he got the part and he’s never looked back.
“It taught me my craft and it definitely put me on the map. I would not have had the career I’ve had without being cast in that show, for sure.”
While McKenney was already proficient as a singer and dancer, there was one aspect of playing Allen that presented a challenge – chatting to the audience. Allen was flamboyant, glib and had a quick, wicked sense of humour.
“That absolutely freaked me out because I’d never done that before,” says McKenney.
By all accounts, he appears to have mastered it.
McKenney is currently touring a Peter Allen tribute show, in which he pays homage to Allen.
“This show is more about Todd McKenney singing Peter Allen, not Todd McKenney being Peter Allen.”
The repertoire is broader, with songs selected from amongst 250 that Allen recorded during his career. The show also features guest appearances by phenomenal singer Queenie Van de Sandt and, incredibly, Liza Minnelli (in the shape of Trevor Ashley)!
It’s a parred down production in the intimate setting of The Studio at Sydney Opera House, and it will be unforgettable.
Apr 28-29, 7pm. The Studio, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Pt, Sydney. $79+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyoperahouse.com
By Rita Bratovich.